Romney, Lies & Videotape

I want to have a word with my Democratic friends who are biting their nails to the quick and wringing their hands in despair over the election. On progressive websites, I’m seeing people making themselves crazy over every minute movement of every poll when they should be doing something productive, like cleaning the house or making get-out-the-vote calls.

Sure, Romney COULD win next Tuesday, but it’s a long shot. The math is against him. Yet the media keeps hollering, “It’s a tie! It’s a tie!”

There’s a reason for that. The longer there’s suspense, the longer they keep you glued to your TV/radio/newspaper/whatever you get your news from. Earlier this week, the Plain Dealer ran a story about how the presidential election could come down to Ohio’s provisional votes. It could, but that’s an even longer shot. The media would love it, but it could be fatal to our country.

While I understand the media’s self-interested investment in suspense, it angers me that they seem to not care that this is about OUR LIVES. It’s long been commented on that election coverage has come down to scorekeeping: who raised how much money and who is ahead (or behind) in what polls. To them it’s a game.

Maybe that’s why it took the media so long to actually call out Mitt Romney on his brazen, Mandelesque lying (or is Josh Mandel guilty of Romneyesque lying? In any case, they’re owned by the same puppetmasters). After snagging the Republican nomination by pandering to the most extreme elements to ever control a major political party, Romney pivoted (or in the words of one of his spokespeople “etch-a-sketched”) his way out of it by lying about his previous positions and statements.

And he did this in the age of YouTube when everything is on videotape and available everything is online. It’s like he thinks you’re stupid and gullible enough to elect him because he’s smooth and rich and good-looking. And in fact, he did find enough people gullible enough — or filled with enough hatred for our president — to make the race closer than it should be.

Because Mitt Romney is the epitome of everything Americans of all stripes have been railing against for years. Americans hate that there are special rules for big banks and Wall Street. They think that special tax deals for the rich should be eliminated. They think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid should be protected. They believe in supporting veterans with needed services. They believe in contraception, for petes sake, even if they differ on exactly where they stand on abortion — proved by the fact that most sexually active Americans use it. And increasingly, they are flowing toward supporting marriage equality.

How on earth at this time in our history can a man like Romney — a corporate raptor who has gotten wealthy by feasting on the blood and bones of working Americans — be a remotely viable candidate? He has even gotten away with not releasing his taxes, most likely because they would show what a special deal he has gotten not available to most people. Can you imagine the shriekfest that would have ensued if President Obama refused to release his tax returns?

I won’t go off on my rant about IOKIYAR* now, but I can think of several dozen things Mitt Romney has said and done that would have destroyed any aspiring Democrat’s campaign. It’s almost like the media, realizing that Romney’s real positions (as far as we can discern them) would be so poisonous to most people and wanting the election not be to a blowout, worked to keep his lies and contradictions mostly concealed or whitewashed.

Until this past week, that is. They finally had enough.

On October 25, Romney spoke in Defiance, Ohio. One of Romney’s big liabilities in Ohio is his opposition — or whatever it is his actual position is, which doesn’t make much sense — to what President Obama did to save the auto industry. But the auto industry bailout is hugely popular in Ohio because the state is so dependent on that sector. Without the bailout, Ohio would very likely be in the midst of a depression.

Desperately casting around for a way to fling some mud at the president on this issue, Romney said,

I saw a story today, that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China. I will fight for every good job in America, I’m going to fight to make sure trade is fair, and if it’s fair, America will win.

But that statement is what is widely known as “untrue.” (Never mind that the corporate tax policies Romney’s proposed would accelerate job outsourcing, and that the corporate vultures that support back Romney don’t support fair trade.)

And alas for Romney, he got called out on it — and called out again and again in brutal terms. Starting with Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler.

The confusion stemmed from the first paragraph of the Bloomberg story, which explained that Chrysler-owner Fiat "plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in the country.” The piece subsequently clarified that Chrysler was considering "adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China."

A Chrysler spokesman scorned the misinterpretation as "a leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats," explaining, "Jeep has no intention of shifting production of its Jeep models out of North America to China. It's simply reviewing the opportunities to return Jeep output to China for the world's largest auto market. U.S. Jeep assembly lines will continue to stay in operation."

But Romney, being Romney, refused to correct himself and doubled down on the lie.

Mitt Romney’s new television ad suggesting that the auto bailout will result in American jeep jobs getting shipped to China has been pilloried by news organizations, both nationally and in Ohio. The Romney campaign’s response: It is expanding the ad campaign.

This hasn’t gone well for him. The press has been brutal.

Here’s just a small sampling:

From the Denver Post:

Nothing smells like desperation more than the falsehoods and half-truths coming out of the Romney campaign about Chrysler purportedly moving Jeep manufacturing jobs to China.The episode has been shameful.

From Huffington Post:

Where the ad goes from misleading to something more nefarious is in the text it shows. At one point, it displays a line from a Bloomberg story stating that Chrysler "plans to return Jeep output to China," the implication being that the company is moving operations there as opposed to expanding operations that are already there.

And in an article entitled “A Desperate, Deceptive Gambit for Romney in Ohio,” the New Republic said,

Romney on Thursday scared the bejeezus out of Ohio autoworkers when, during a rally, he cited a story claiming that Chrysler was moving Jeep production to China. Thousands of people work at a sprawling Jeep complex in Toledo and a nearby machining plant. Many thousands more work for suppliers or have jobs otherwise dependent on the Jeep factories. It’s fair to say that they owe their jobs to President Obama, who in 2009 rescued Chrysler and General Motors from likely liquidation. …The story turns out to be wrong. As Chrysler made clear the very next day, in a tartly worded blog post on the company website, officials have discussed opening plants in China in order to meet rising demand for vehicles there. They have no plans to downsize or shutter plants in the U.S. On the contrary, Fiat, the Italian company that acquired Chrysler during the rescue, just spent $1.7 billion to expand Jeep production in the U.S. That includes $500 million to renovate and expand the Toledo facilities, with 1,000 new factory jobs likely to follow.

Worst of all was the feedback Romney got from PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter, which showed him ranging into territory Josh Mandel has previously owned: Pants on Fire!

To Mitt Romney, this is all a ploy to deceive Ohioans long enough to get elected. To Ohioans dependent on the auto industry, it’s their lives. And finally, at the end of this long, long campaign, the media has decided that people’s lives might actually matter. Let’s hope it’s not too late. I don’t think it is.

*It's OK If You're a Republican.

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